When a person or a couple are searching for a qualified sex therapist to help them solve a sexual problem, a variety of counselors and therapists can be found on the web who claim they do sex therapy. How does the consumer know if a counselor really is a qualified sex therapist?

A real sex therapist is board certified by at least one of four national boards. Typically, a therapist takes advanced courses to earn a Masters or a Ph.D., and they pass a board exam. Just as you would not want to go to a physician who is not board certified in her or his specialty, you would not blindly accept a counselor’s claim that they are a board certified sexologist.

The four national sexology boards include The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (merely being a member does not mean the organization has certified the member as a sex therapist or counselor), The American College of Sexologists, The American Board of Sexology, and The American Academy of Clinical Sexologists. The first three organizations have a website where the consumer can see if a given therapist is board certified. You should also check out their education, state licensure and certifications on their websites (if they have websites!), or via LinkedIn.

Like other professions, ethical therapists are honest and clear about their credentials. Unfortunately, there is little regulation of who is qualified to say they do sex therapy. In most states, it is up to the consumer to do their research.

Don’t be fooled by listings on Psychology Today or other websites, or what comes up on Google, Bing or other search engines that uncritically and inaccurately allow counselors to label themselves as sex therapists. Check out each potential therapist on your own. If they don’t list their board certifications and degrees, ask them for them and verify them. There are some marriage and family therapists, psychologists and mental health counselors who claim they are experts on sexual problems, but this does not mean they really are sex experts, or that they are board certified or qualified. The media often create sex experts who aren’t qualified as real experts.

Finally, those offering sex “addiction” counseling are not sex therapists unless they also are board certified as sex therapists. The myth of sexual “addiction” will be covered in an upcoming blog.

If you have questions about the qualifications to be a sex therapist or other mental health professional, e-mail me at drlibby@drrogerlibby.com.